Is blogging becoming a lost art?
Following on from my last post, and the assertions that Facebook is killing the open web, I started writing a post asking what we actually mean when we talk about blogs.
We think we know the answer, in fact we're certain we do. Aren't we?
This took me to Feedly, my RSS reader of choice, to examine and sanitise my subscriptions. Admittedly, it's been a while since I last did this properly but what I discovered shocked me.
So many of those whose feeds I had subscribed to, including from a number who used to be considered blogging stalwarts, are no longer updated, in some cases haven't been for years.
Individual feeds terminated with post titles such as "This Blog is Dead" or littered with scraps and remnants where the author tried to pivot but stopped publishing shortly after.
No explanation, no sign off, just dead air.
I went from over 200 subscriptions to just 51 with only around 20 of those being what you could call a blog in the true sense of the word, maybe less.
So what is a blog?
Do a Google search and you'll be given the following definition:
a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.
The Wikipedia page for "Blog" extends this with:
consisting of discrete entries ("posts") typically displayed in reverse chronological order
Many sites that used to call themselves blogs, and may have actually started out as blogs, became media organisations or news portals written by an ever expanding staff. We are under no illusions that these can still be called blogs, they haven't been for a long time.
So what is it that really makes something a blog?
I would argue that a true blog is personal, individual, a voice.
A blog should be the unfettered thoughts and opinions of its author, singular, not even a small group. An opportunity for that individual to share their ideas with the world.
Blogs are a relationship with their readers whether that is two, two thousand or two million.
The written web has largely lost the personal touch; the informality which made blogs so special has been replaced by social media.
Blogs were supposed to be the simple way for individuals to publish to the web but status updates usurped them - for many they did away with the need completely.
Those left publishing to their Content Management Systems were left fighting for scant attention and page views while the neo-socialites traded privacy for simplicity in a race to the bottom.
A no brainier.
After the rise and fall of the six-figure blogger people still wanted to get paid to write. News became endlessly recycled, broken down into ever smaller bite-sized chunks; the "bloggers" paid by the post while the extra page views ensure the ad money keeps flowing.
No one, it seems, has time for the personal touch unless it's in less than 140 characters.
And why should they? No one reads any more.